Aviation unions have restated their determination to continue with the shutdown of activities at Murtala Muhammed International Airport 2, until the 62 workers sacked by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL) are recalled.
In the early hours of Wednesday, passengers who arrived to catch their flights, met the gates of MMIA 2 closed.
On Tuesday, a Federal High Court had granted an order in the suit filed by Bi-Courtney Aviation Services Limited (BASL), operators of MMA2, restraining the unions from shutting down activities at the airport.
The unions, which comprised Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE) and the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), are protesting the sack of 62 workers of Bi-Courtney who were said to have been dismissed for partaking in union activities.
Speaking with SaharaReporters, Saheed Hakeem, one of the sacked workers who used to be a security personnel with Bi-Courtney, said the organisation “unlawfully terminated the jobs of 62 staff for participating in union activities as at May 2018. The NCAA, security agents has been involved so that this issue can be resolved amicably but the company refused. They said they won’t go back on their decision. We’ve tolerated them and this is the sixth month we’ve been on it.
"For any organisation which refuses to allow unionism, the only message they understand is shutdown. Until they reverse their decision, we as unions stand on one condition that all sacked staff must be called back to work and they won’t lose their years of service. As far as we are concerned, they are still working because it is in the constitution that you have every right to join a union. If Babalakin say he is ready to meet our demand, we are good to go.”
Addressing the workers and stranded travellers, Comrade Francis Akinyode, the Deputy General Secretary, Air Transport Services of the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria, said Bi-Courtney left them with no option as they had tried to meet with the company management several times.
He said: “We’ve had up to six meetings that Bi-Courtney said they are not interested in having any discussion with the union. We have been pushed we are not going back until those sacked workers are recalled and reinstated. This exercise is not a child’s play and we are continuing tomorrow. We will do it in the evening today; we'll continue tomorrow; we will continue next tomorrow, and we will continue until they are recalled."
Akinyode advised travellers not to go inside the airport hall as nobody would attend to them. “Just go home,” he said
Also speaking with SaharaReporters, Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary of the National Union of Air Transport Employees declared that they “may be here for as long as it takes unless members of staff that were sacked are recalled and freedom is given to all other employees within the establishment to freely join any of the unions in the industry".
A stranded traveller, who preferred not to be named, said: “My journey has been messed up. We are supposed to go to Port Harcourt today, but no way. We're just stuck here. We were not given notice and we never knew that this would happen.”